The one thing we know about lager is that it’s one of the most popular types of beer that is even more popular than ale in some countries. It has a light and crispy taste, and it has a more smooth and balanced profile compared to ale. It’s also less bitter than ale with lower IBU (International Bitterness Units), but it has more carbonation than ales.
Can You Homebrew a Lager?
Being so popular among people worldwide, brewing a lager isn’t strange. Although brewing it might be more challenging than brewing ales because lagers can show off any flaws in the brewing process, still, a lot of people enjoy brewing their own lager. In the end, practice and patience are all that matters, so over time, you can undoubtedly become a pro.
The one thing that stays the same for brewing any beer is having the proper brewing kit. Besides the usual lager starter kits that contain a hydrometer, test flask sanitiser and cleaners, carbonation drops, bottling valve, fermentation barrel with a tap, bottle brush and bottles, you should also pay more attention to the type of malt and hop you choose.
Important Factors to Have in Mind When Home Brewing Lager
Choose the Right Malt and Hop
Paying attention to the malt and hops are essential because they can break or make the taste and look of your beer. In other words, they play a huge role in the taste of your beer, so you should pay attention to the type your choose. If this is your first time brewing beer at home, you should certainly consult with someone who has more experience.
Fortunately, nowadays, there are many ready-made malt and hop mixtures that allow for making fewer mistakes than brewing a lager in the past. Depending on your taste, you can choose a lager homebrew kit that consists of more fruity and citrus aromas, or you can choose a combo that can provide you with a more balanced hoppy bitterness. Choosing the classic mixture that can give you a clean and crisp lager finish is also an option. As you can see, there is a diverse range of lager homebrew kit options, allowing you to choose the one that can best meet your needs.
Use a Yeast Starter
A yeast starter is essential in making a lager at home since these beers are designed to ferment at lower temperatures which means that yeast won’t grow as fast as in ales. Unfortunately, this delayed fermentation at lower temperatures can result in bacteria growth, contaminating everything. To avoid this problem, pitch a greater amount of yeast than the one needed for ale fermentation. Luckily, these homemade lager kits come with an instruction, making everything easily achievable.
Carefully Control the Temperature
As you might know by now, all yeast strains have a temperature range that gives optimal fermentation results. In lager strains, the temperature can range between 3 and 15°C depending on the yeast strain, so keeping the temperature within these boundaries during the making process is paramount. The ideal way to monitor and keep the temperature at the needed degree is with the help of a thermometer. If possible, you can even use a chiller or refrigerator to keep the temperature at the required level. In case you’re not in a position to invest in a special refrigerator, you can simply keep the lager in a colder part of your home and insulate the barrel with some cover that can keep it for daylight and sunlight.
Use Two-Stage Method of Fermentation
Regardless of the fining agents and hard boil you implement, it’s said that protein trub will still find its way to make it into the fermenter. For this reason, you should move the beer from its primary fermenter to a secondary. This will keep the beer away from developing any off-flavours and aromas. Thanks to this two-stage fermentation, the needed amount of yeast will remain suspended within the beer even after the sediment is removed. That way, the lager will obtain its clean and finished character.
Given the fact that lager comes from the German word ‘lagern’, which means ‘to store’, you should take it slow when brewing a lager. Take your time and trust the process. Never rush things with a lager since the end result will be disastrous. While ales and some other beers can be brewed, bottled and consumed in 2-3 weeks, it’s said that lagers take weeks or even months longer to develop. So, it’s best for you to patiently wait between every phase of fermentation as that way, you’ll allow the beer to run its course like it’s supposed to. We all know that patience is a virtue that not all of us have, and if you’re leaning towards the impatient group of people, you should work on this before indulging yourself in brewing your own lager.